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Bridge to get makeover

Date: 8/24/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD - City officials said last week that despite the reconstruction of the bridge on State Street over Roosevelt Avenue, that travel will be maintained.

Mayor Domenic Sarno was joined by Department of Public Works Director Al Chwalek and Kevin Kennedy of Congressman Richard Neal's office for a press conference on Aug. 18 on Roosevelt Avenue near the bridge. As cars on Roosevelt Avenue slowly traveled under the bridge, Chwalek said the $2 million project is completely rebuilding the bridge.

"This is a big job - very complex," Chwalek said.

Part of the complexity is that utility vaults under the sidewalks on each side of the bridge required rebuilding. The electrical and telephone lines had to be temporarily relocated, while the gas lines in the vaults were permanently brought away from the site.

Chwalek said the bridge would be "stripped down to the I-beams" and completely rebuilt. There will be new sidewalks and retaining walls installed and the trees around the bridge will be removed. The bridge will also be treated with an anti-graffiti coating.

"It will be like it was years ago - a very attractive bridge," Chwalek added.

The funding for the bridge project is being supplied by MassHighways, he said.

Kennedy noted the bridge was not part of the federally funded reconstruction of the State Street Corridor, but is "a real example of cooperation" between the state and federal governments.

Kennedy described the bridge - which had been previously wrapped with netting to prevent chunks of concrete from falling on passing cars - as "a vexing problem for well over 20 years."

Sarno credited City Council William Foley for advocating for the bridge's re-construction.